Rug: Good breeding, nose-licking and not having webbed feet
I have been much praised for my beauty, in that I represent in near-perfection my most estimable breed, which is, I think the true definition of beauty. I am, as the song says, what I am. May I reveal my true name? Jade St Quivox Hyacinth Michelle De Valais. And yet they call me Rug. Or in the case of the diminutive demon dog Dexter, Rugsta or even sometimes Fat Sofa. I resent this. Of course I do. I am a very large dog of purest genetic inheritance, with a little Newfoundland and possibly mastiff thrown in for strength and, may God have mercy, the possibility of accidental swimming.
Although I have been spared - and consequent thanks be to St Bernard of Clairvaux, that fine bearded and rather substantial specimen of a man - the webbed feet of the Newfoundland.
It seems that Newfoundlands, that dull, if vast brand of canine - were bred to retrieve fishing nets from the icy oceans of the North Atlantic, and their peculiar double coat contains some kind of flotation device, a lifejacket of hairiness. I lack this as well as the peculiar duck feet, though I do have the basic knowledge of swimology, discovered one day when I miscalculated the gap between a jetty and a fishing boat. Fortunately the fishing boat concerned was modern and equipped with a substantial winch. Photographs exist. They imbue a lack of dignity to one of my genetic stature and shall not be published. I believe them to be on a now-redundant, inaccessible and heavily chewed mobile telephone, long thought lost and indeed buried where only I could have buried it, and have long since forgotten the location.
So, I know I can, when forced, tread water to the extend of keeping my nostrils above water. And it is about the nostrils I wish to enlighten you. For these were, for some time, a barrier to my beauty being properly appreciated.
They are extremely substantial nostrils. Indeed, my olfactory capacities are if I may so myself, extraordinary. I can detect an unwashed, sweating human at a distance of several miles, especially if they have been eating fried food. Which means I am particularly good at finding Scottish people. Sometimes I am tasked with finding such humans, when one loses their way on the nearby barren moorland, blinded by chipfat and cholestorol. I usually pretend to co-operate for a few minutes until cold and boredom sets in. Then I return to the owner and gaze mournfully at them, indicating that the lost human is probably dead, and I wish to return to the warmth of the Volvo. However, One such wandering tourist creature was actually hoarding a cold deep-fried pizza in their backpack, and I could not resist tracking them down to their bivouac, where I consumed said item with gusto, and barked mildly until the search party turned up. By which time the hiker concerned had suffered anaphylactic shock due to a dog allergy. Presumably Alpine rescue dogs never have to put up with such nonsense. And they blamed me, a dog, for being a dog doing a dog’s work! At least I got the pizza. And a Macaroon bar, retrieved while the helicopter was airlifting the walker to hospital.
But back to my beauty. This had been abraded and distorted, somewhat, due to a previous custodian keeping my locked in a rather rough and ready cage. Being young and foolish and too easily seduced by a need for human companionship, I would oftentimes rub my nostrils against the rusty wire of the cage, and this left me, by the time I arrived chez my current owners, with a scaly and flaky nose of unpleasant mien. I was also, as often happens to sporadically and carelessly fed dogs, something of a...well. Let me simply say that i was prone to liberating food when it became available to me, no matter its origin. And so the upsetting of bins and occasional encounter with boiling fat or cartwheeling drying pans also damaged my muzzle. It healed, but was cracked, dry and as I say, affected my essentially irresistible appearance. Also I was I think, mildly overweight. By a stone or two.
Now, I am not saying that I have Devil Dog Dexter to thank, but my nose has cleared up completely, and is now smooth and damp like a piece of fine Italian leather crossed with a blackberry. The fruit not the bankrupt tech company. My eyes, too, which once, I must admit, may have appeared bloodshot and rheumy, now sparkle with life.
This may - I say ‘may’ - be due in part to Dexter. He has moved on from his sexual enthusiasms and developed a liking for licking my eyes and nose. Platonically, if sometimes too enthusiastically. I have to say that this is not unpleasant from my point of view. He claims I taste of Bonio Chunks. I am, cautiously, taking this as a compliment. Others have said - shouted, rudely, that I have an aroma pertaining to Swiss cheese that has been maturing a little too long in a long-broken refrigerator. After marinating in a wrestler’s jockstrap for several years. But I know this cannot be the case. Otherwise, how could I detect an unwashed Scot only by my nasal passages?
My attempts at licking my own nose have I fear been counter-productive. My tongue is relatively short and also somewhat abrasive. It has been known to wear holes in wooden, seats let alone my own delicate hooter. I was not bred to be a nasal self-licker. I was bred to be beautiful and warm, supportive to aid to the lost and listless in Alpine passes. Or the miserable moorlands of Scotland, I suppose, if the weather's clement and the person sought is carrying a pizza.
Breeding is wonderful thing. But so is nose-licking by a handy devil dog. I cautiously recommend it.